Passenger Shipping Between Cork and Britain

Passenger Shipping Between Cork and Britain

Updated 28 Feb 2001

Submitted by Michael Cronin and posted here with her kind permission.

This list does not include all passenger steamer services. Prior to the development of the railways in the 1850s there were many coastal services and some, such as the Dublin - London route, which combined a crossing of the Irish Sea with a service along the coast of England. Such services were unable to compete for passengers with the railway and so concentrated on cargo while still offering passenger berths as a sideline.

War Office Steam Packet Co.

the first company to work the Cork to Bristol route starting in 1821, later a Bristol to Dublin service was added. Called the War Office Co. because of a number of Government contracts but after several name changes became, in 1836, the Bristol General Steam Navigation Co., the word "General" was dropped in 1877 when the company was sold to Cork interests. Notable ships included the paddle steamers Juno (1868, Cork route), and the screw steamer Argo (1871, Dublin route). The service had ended by 1914 because of competition from Fishguard.

St George Steam Packet Co.

founded in Liverpool in 1821 but with much of the share capital from Cork, initially there were two ships, St George and St Patrick, serving Liverpool, Dublin and Bristol, but two more were added later, the Lee on the Cork to Liverpool route, and the Severn on the Cork to Bristol. In 1825 the company H.Q. moved to Warren's Place, Cork, and in 1831 moved again to Penrose Quay. They expanded rapidly from this time and were soon operating out of every major British port as well as Holland, Denmark and Russia. In 1843 The company was renamed the City of Cork Steamship Co., and in 1871 the 'home trade' part of the company was separated from the foreign to become the City of Cork Steam Packet Co. In 1876 they added the Cork to Milford Haven (later Fishguard) route which they had taken over from GWR.

By 1914 the Company offered the following services
Cork - Fishguard: 3 times a week in each direction
Cork - Liverpool: Twice a week in each direction
Cork - Bristol: Once a week each way
Cork- Plymouth - Southampton - London: Weekly round trip
Cork - Newport and Cardiff. Carrying Coal and general cargo back to Cork.

The Bristol service ended in 1914 but the other routes were maintained until 1918, when, because war losses had decimated the fleet, the company was taken over by Coast Lines although they continued to trade under the 'Cork' name. In 1836 a re-organisation of Coast Lines saw the company became part of the British and Irish Steam Packet Co. Notable ships included: Sirius (1838) the first ship to cross the Atlantic under steam; Innisfallen (1896) sunk by a German U-boat 23 May 1918; Innisfallen (1930) was switched from the Fishguard - Cork route to Liverpool - Cork on the outbreak of war; there was also a third Innisfallen (1948). The Liverpool - Cork service ended in 1963 with the withdrawal of the steamer Glengariff and B & I was purchased by the Irish Government in 1965.

City of Dublin Steam Packet Co.

ran cargo and passenger services from Cork to Liverpool before the First World War.


The Great Western Railway reached Neyland in Pembrokeshire in 1856, they co-operated with Messrs Ford and Jackson of London to run steamer services to both Cork and Waterford. Neyland was called Milford Haven by GWR (not to be confused with the current port of Milford Haven) until 1906 when they opened their new terminal at Fishguard (built by GWR and the Great Southern and Western Railway of Ireland), Neyland then reverted to its old name. In 1872 GWR took over the Jackson and Ford ships, they maintained the Waterford service but sold the Cork service to the City of Cork Steam Packet Co. in 1876. Notable ships on this service included: Pembroke - ordered as a paddle steamer in 1880 but after an accident was rebuilt as a screw steamer; Great Western and Great Southern, both ordered in 1902. Extract from JCHAS [January-June, 1919]
about the loss of the SS Bandon in 1917
Shipping notices from Cork newspapers. Jean and Finbarr's site web site
A history of the B & I line
This site is about the Dublin packets but contains some interesting advice for passengers Dublin packets

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